Houndify and Alexa Power Anki’s Smart Home Robot, Vector

Last week, SoundHound announced its partnership with Anki, to include it’s Houndify voice AI platform in the Q&A feature of Anki’s smart home robot, Vector. Vector is a $249.99 personality-driven home robot, able to see, hear, speak, and feel in order to react to the world around him. The Q&A feature can be activated by saying “Hey Vector, I have a question.” Here is a list of example queries users can ask Vector:

  • Who is Jarvis?
  • What is the distance between London and New York?
  • What’s the weather in San Francisco this evening?
  • How many calories are in an avocado?
  • Who won the World Cup?
  • How is the stock market today?
  • What’s the status of American Airlines flight 100?
  • What time is it in Hong Kong?
  • How fast is a knot?
  • What’s 1000 Yen in US dollars?
  • What is the square root of 144?
  • How many cups are in a gallon?
  • When is the next full moon?

As Vector adopts additional Houndify domains or topics of interest such as ‘sports’ or ‘music trivia,’ his knowledge base will expand. When a user asks Vector a question, he filters information gathered from the cloud in order to return a relevant response. Mark Palatucci, Co-Founder, Anki, commented on the partnership,

SoundHound Inc’s Houndify platform voice interface brings a level of knowledge to Vector to complement his endearing personality. The Q&A feature is fast, accurate, and delightful, and we look forward to expanding upon the capabilities offered.

Vector Includes Alexa, Too

Houndify is not the only Voice AI platform integrated with Vector, either. Anki’s website states that Alexa is also built-in, meaning users can control Alexa enabled smart home devices with Vector.

Vector is a Personality Driven Voice Assistant

The development of a device like Vector indicates the expanding reach of voice assistants into personality-driven devices. Anki describes Vector as “more than a home robot…Vector is your sidekick who’s up for anything, He’s the robot to life with.” As the promotional videos highlight, asking Vector questions or giving him voice commands elicits varied responses with his display, head, and arm moving accordingly – he definitely gives the impression that he is alive and has developed his own personality. Personality can also be seen in his voice, which is unique because it is made up of hundreds of synthesized sounds, allowing him to communicate a wide range of emotions. For an extra $29.99, users can even buy Vector his own playpen, called Space. Vector also features an HD camera to see, a four-microphone array to hear, laser scanners, touch sensors, and an accelerometer so he knows when he’s being touched and moved.

However, personality is not enough to sell a voice assistant. Recent Voicebot research suggests that consumers are not focused on the personality of voice assistants, rather they care more about how well a voice assistant understands them. Only 6.2% of consumers stated that a personality is the most important quality of a voice assistant, and 53.1% of respondents stated that how well a voice assistant understands them is the most important quality. These findings can be found in the Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report. The inclusion of both Houndify and Alexa indicates that Anki is aware that they can only get so far with personality. Bringing in two high-quality voice assistants could give Vector the support it needs to be a successful product.



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